Civic Space Initiative statement on public participation guidelines

39th Session of the Human Rights Council
General Debate

Civic Space Initiative, including Article 19, CIVICUS, European Center for Not-for-profit Law, International Center for Not-for-profit Law and World Movement for Democracy, welcomes the draft guidelines on effective implementation of the right to participate in public affairs prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

We emphasise the critical importance of equal and meaningful participation in the realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as already laid out in Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Equally, we recognise the centrality of participation in building democratic societies, social inclusion, gender equality and in advancing economic development and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

We welcome the transparent, open, and inclusive manner in which the OHCHR developed the draft guidelines, including consultations our organizations participated in all parts of the world.

We underscore all practical recommendations at national and international level which will help UN member States to create an environment necessary for the public to have their say. We highlight in particular the right of access to information and States’ obligations to encourage and support civil society to do its work and refrain from any harassment and reprisal of rights-holders.

Therefore, we strongly encourage the Council to endorse the guidelines on effective implementation of the right to participate in public affairs, and call on all UN Member States, local authorities, relevant United Nations bodies, specialized agencies, funds and programmes to promote the use and implementation of the guidelines within their work and public outreach.    

We look forward to working with OHCHR, as well as States at the international and national level to enhance the right to public participation.